After sprucing up airports, MAHB in drive to boost tourist arrivals

MAHB has launched a major campaign to boost tourist arrivals. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s main airport operator is allocating millions of ringgit to promote the country to tourists, amid concerns over the drop in the number of visitors.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin said the campaign would complement its current campaign to encourage more airlines to fly in, including a major sprucing up of facilities and services at airports nationwide.

“The demand for Malaysia as a destination is what determines whether airlines decide to come here or not,” Raja Azmi told FMT in a recent interview.

“That is why it is vital that Malaysia can always attract tourists, and though this involves multiple parties and is not something we can control on our own, we feel the need to do something.”

MAHB’s campaign to draw more airlines to land in Malaysian airports has already borne fruit.

Last year, 13 new airlines added Malaysia to their destinations.

This year, MAHB aims to draw 10 new airlines to fly in.

Tourism arrivals in Malaysia declined last year, according to government statistics.

Raja Azmi said the drop would affect airlines as they would scale down the number of flights.

He said it was time MAHB played a more proactive role, and not be content with being an airport operator.

Malaysia Airports group CEO Raja Azmi Raja Nazuddin.

One initiative, he said, was the RM5 million campaign to promote Langkawi to boost the island’s profile as a tourist destination.

He said the funds would be distributed to tourism industry players such as airlines, tour operators, travel agents and marketing companies.

Raja Azmi said MAHB was also working with Tourism Malaysia on similar promotional funds called the Joint International Tourism Development Programme.

That programme sees MAHB and Tourism Malaysia each contributing RM10 million to industry players to promote Malaysia to the world.

“Through this collaboration, we aim to boost tourist arrivals from high growth markets such as China, India and Asean and develop new routes for Malaysia.”

Raja Azmi added that MAHB was also working with the Malaysia Design Development Centre to provide a platform and support to local businesses to showcase their products to the world.

“The idea is to ensure that travellers, especially international visitors, can get a sense of Malaysia through local products with an international appeal.

“This way, they can take home a piece of Malaysia and that itself will act as an advertisement for the country.”